It’s been said that growing old isn’t for sissies. Neither is running, high-impact aerobics, or a host of other beneficial but bone-jarring forms of exercise.
Aquatic exercises, including swimming, water walking and water aerobics, are a smart, no-sweat alternative for seniors who want to stay in shape without risking injury.
An increasing number of public swimming pools, community centers and active retirement communities, including Lourdes Noreen McKeen, offer aquatic programs aimed at older adults looking to maintain muscle tone, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness.
But the benefits don’t stop there.
Here are just five reasons that seniors should consider a water-based fitness routine:
- Increased metabolism: As we age, our metabolism naturally slows down. Staying active keeps the fires stoked.
“It’s clear that aqua aerobics or water-based activities provide significant benefits for older adults, including increasing metabolism”
Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko, Ph.D., head of the kinesiology department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign told WebMD.com.
- Stronger muscles: The Arthritis Foundation is a huge proponent of all forms of aquatic exercise, which strengthen muscles thanks to the resistance of water (12 times more resistant than air) but go easy on joints.
- Improved agility: A 2007 study of older American and Japanese women found that those who participated in a water-based exercise routine enjoyed measurably improved agility on land. By the study’s end, the women also walked faster on land and climbed stairs faster, too.
- Keeping cool: Women suffering from hot flashes or those with illnesses such as multiple sclerosis will appreciate working out in water rather than outdoors or in a stuffy gym. And, just floating in a pool is a stress reliever for all but the aquaphobic among us.
- Built-in workout buddies: Think of it this way: A water aerobics class is essentially a coordinated pool party. You’re in your swimsuit next to like-minded people, the music is cranked up, and you’re feeling buoyant physically and emotionally. Following the teacher’s instructions on what moves to do next also keeps the brain engaged.
So jump in! The water’s fine.